- This trope is supposed to date back to the early morality plays just before the development of theatre and Renaissance drama. Each morality play would have a Guardian Angel / Good Angel and a Guardian Devil / Bad Angel speak to the everyman main character.
- Used in the 16th century play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe actually calls the characters Good Angel and Bad Angel in the script.
- The Broadway musical Avenue Q features the characters being tempted by the Bad Idea Bears, a pair of Care Bear-like puppets that lean over their shoulders and suggest, well, bad ideas. It's like Good Angel Bad Angel, except that both angels are Bad Angels.
- In Aristophanes's The Clouds the roles of Good and Bad Angel are played by a personified Right and Wrong arguments, who try to persuade the protagonist's son Pheidippides either to avoid or to enter into Socrates's sophistical "Thinkery," making this trope palaioteros apo to chôma..
- Mentioned directly in the William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice. Comic relief character Launcelot Gobbo soliloquises about continuing to work with Shylock, and refers to his conscience on one shoulder, and the fiend on the other.
- Sigh No More, a 1945 musical revue by NoŽl Coward, featured a number called "Willy" where the title character is advised by two entire singing and dancing choruses of good angels and bad angels.
Willy: With all these bloody angels in the house, a chap can't get a moment's peace!